By Joey Natividad
CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) hit COMELEC for ‘putting teachers in the line of fire with defective armaments’, saying that COMELEC is directly responsible for the heavy workload, harassment, and intimidation teacher-poll workers unfairly suffered as frontliners in the recently concluded midterm elections.
“The experience of teacher-poll workers is part and parcel of the established dirty and problematic system of elections in the country. We cannot blame the people to question the integrity and credibility of the 2019 midterm polls because clearly, COMELEC failed to give them the kind of elections they deserve,” said ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez, contained in a statement sent Thursday To BicolToday.com in Naga City.
Malfunctioning and defective machines
Martinez proceeded to present data gathered by ACT’s election hotline in relation to the conduct of the May 13 elections. According to the group, Vote-Counting Machine (VCM) error and failure emerged to be the ‘single most pressing problem’ of the electoral board and the voters, whereas the Voter Registration Verification Machine (VRVM) was deemed as a ‘total failure’ so much that it was entirely abandoned in several polling precincts.
“67.72% of the total reports we have documented had to do with machine and paraphernalia issues, putting into question the ampleness of COMELEC’s technical preparations for the elections, and whether the billions spent on acquiring these were worth the taxpayers’ money,” asked Martinez.
COMELEC admitted that around 400–600 VCMs malfunctioned during the elections, a 220% increase of machine malfunction incidences compared to the 2016 national and local elections. Martinez responded and criticized COMELEC as ‘teachers bore the consequences of the failure and defects of these machines’.
“Not only did they have to be resourceful in troubleshooting the machines and in exhausting all possible means to ensure that the voting process continues immediately, but they also had to endure voters’ irk and disappointment in the resulting chaos and long lines in polling precicnts,” lamented Martinez.
Martinez noted that they have also received reports of machines printing receipts inconsistent to the contents of the ballots, as well as poorly printed ballots that are nearly unreadable to voters.
Vote-buying, black propaganda
Another major issue ACT documented include massive vote-buying by incumbent officials and propagation of black propaganda by state forces.
“The extent of the abuse of power and authority by several government officials is alarming. We have even documented police forces distributing their official publication in which progressive party-list groups and organizations are tagged as terrorists outside precicncts they’re supposed to be guarding from illegal activities,” said Martinez.
Martinez said these need to immediately be investigated as these clearly constitute electoral offenses.
Failure of elections for people to decide
ACT referred to COMELEC’s proclamation that it has been a ‘generally successful elections’ and argued that the issues experienced by teacher-poll workers and by voters themselves questions the credibility of the midterm polls.
“Teachers have done their best and delivered beyond what is expected of them, as they see poll duty as a nationalist calling. Sadly, however trustworthy and dependable our teachers are, more powerful forces in the society will always have the upperhand in the making or breaking of elections,” said Martinez.
Martinez further said that as voters themselves, they are one with the people in seeking for a clean, honest, and fair elections.
“We stand with the Filipino people in demanding for justice and accountability behind the people who compromised the integrity of the 2019 elections and denied us of our power and democratic right to choose our next leaders,” said Martinez. [BicolToday.com]